Judge Victor Valdivia's gang has a horrible initiation ceremony: prospects have to watch bad episodes of Gangland.
Our reviews of Gangland: The Complete Season Five (published August 9th, 2010), Gangland: The Complete Season One (published October 1st, 2008), Gangland: The Complete Season Six (published November 13th, 2010), Gangland: The Complete Season Three (published April 3rd, 2009), Gangland: The Complete Season Two (published December 11th, 2008), and Gangland: The Final Season (Blu-Ray) (published March 30th, 2011) are also available.
They're fierce, brutal and ruthless—and bent on leaving their deadly mark on the streets of America.
It's possible that maybe Gangland has hit a wall of some sort. When the show began, it provided a useful service: it profiled criminal gangs, clubs, and organizations of all types all across America. The mixture of first-person testimony and historical research made it a must for anyone curious about crime. However, as it has progressed through four seasons, it's becoming apparent that there are just not enough gangs to really fill out so many shows. There are some superb episodes here, but there are also too many that are repetitive and trivial. This would seem like a very good closing point for the series, but History may unfortunately decide to prolong it far longer than it should.
Gangland: The Complete Season Four has 12 episodes on three discs:
• "Devil's Fire"
• "Divide and Conquer"
• "Kill 'Em All"
• "Boys of Destruction"
• "Aryan Terror"
• "Silent Slaughter"
• "Everybody Killers"
• "Dead Man, Inc."
• "Biker Wars 2"
For the most part, this has some first-rate episodes. The one on the Pagans, for instance, is jaw-dropping. Seeing how the gang once shot a Mafia associate in broad daylight in front of a police station and was so violent that they even chased the mighty Hell's Angels out of Philadelphia is the kind of revelation you watch this show for. Similarly, one gangbanger delivers a pithy epigraph that could apply to every single criminal profiled in all four seasons of this show when he recalls that he was into doing things so illegal that just by waking up in the morning, he was breaking the law. It's fair to say that most of this season ranks amongst this show's best, with typically thorough research into the history of gangs that have sometimes not been fully explored. This thoroughness has become so famous that it actually leads to one of the season's most amusing moments: during the Sons of Silence episode, Gangland's camera crew visits a Colorado biker convention where they are greeted by members of the SOS, all of whom are wearing T-shirts suggesting that the Gangland crew commit certain anatomical impossibilities.
The key problem this season is that the show has spent too many episodes on gangs that are minor at best. The Hidden Valley Kings, the Hoover Criminals, the Love Murdering Gangsters, and the Boys of Destruction are all fairly interchangeable in how small and insignificant they are. They control tiny swaths of territory (if that) and their stories are so clichéd that you'll have a hard time telling them apart, even though they all take place in different regions. This isn't helped by the fact that these gangsters all dress the same and spout the same tired lines about "keepin' it real" and "puttin' in work." If you don't doze off halfway through these episodes, you're a truly dedicated viewer. Essentially, one-third of this season is pretty useless, which is a much better average than, say, Monster Quest, but is much too high for this series.
Overall, however, it would be a mistake to claim that this is a weak collection. It's weaker than others, yes, but it's still worth watching. It's just that it's hard to imagine how much more the show could do—there just aren't any more gangs, clubs, crews, or associations left to cover, if the lesser episodes on this set are any indication. Get it to complete your collection, but don't be surprised if you skip a few more episodes than usual.
Presentation is typical History: 1.78:1 non-anamorphic (why?) and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, both satisfactory. The extras are 5-minute excerpts of extra footage included on each disc, edited from various episodes throughout the show's history, adding different perspectives on gang-related topics, such as women in gangs, territory, and names. These are worth a look.
Not guilty, but it's time to call it a day, History.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
• Bonus Footage
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